A Dose of Reality: Breaking Bonaduce - Episode 8
by Caroline Roberts
Published: October 31, 2005
Last week, Danny blamed his dissatisfaction with rehab on Gretchen. He needs to get a grip on the fact that rehab isn't fun, even if he gets to make bracelets and benches, and there's much more tough love to come.
Don't Touch Danny's Aura
At the beginning of the show, Danny treats Gretchen like his mother, pleading with her to spring him out of rehab: "Can I leave here now? It's starting to bother me. They're peeling back my aura!" He reels off a laundry list of New Age offenses, but, even if the rehab weren't as crunchy, he would still be complaining. Gretchen does a great job deflecting his anger: "You need to stay for you." He balks and whimpers, and she modifies her words: "For us, then."
However, both Gretchen and Dr. Garry are getting fed up with Danny. When Gretchen tells Dr. Garry about Danny's meltdown during her visit to the rehab center, she laughs as she talks, but Dr. Garry is appalled. Dr. Garry looks like he is ready to scream: "We are locked in a Catch-22. When we first started work, I had my sledgehammer, and I was all about breaking you down and breaking you out and making you be vulnerable. Then I absolutely saw how crazy it would be for you to be vulnerable. I support you in not being vulnerable. Why should you? Yesterday is a perfect example. You spoke the truth, and he couldn't hear the truth." It's clear whose side he's on, and he stops just short of advising her to leave. At the same time, he leaves open the suggestion that one day Danny will wind up all alone: "He's such a great salesman, but the problem is he's his own best customer."
At the rehab facility, Danny sits down with Ron, the music therapist. Danny rails upon Ron about all the silly therapies he has had to endure. Ron makes Danny listen to music and "dream actively" to a soundtrack, during which time Ron will write down everything Danny says. As Ron leaves to prepare the room, Danny mouths an expletive right at the camera. As he dreams actively, he might be making stuff up: "There's headlights on a car, they're coming towards me." He hears a car horn and jokes that it is part of his dream. He talks about a weird feeling in his stomach, but it's hard to tell when Danny is kidding and when he's not. He claims that Ron "beat the hell out of equine therapy," but the whole episode might be yet another example of Danny playing the salesman.
But the real salesperson in the family is Gretchen. Gretchen talks with Paul, Danny's radio agent, to negotiate Danny's new radio contract. Not only is she his caretaker, but she is also his manager. Paul kisses up to Gretchen and mentions Danny's ratings, but the conversation has one ominous line: "The only way that Danny becomes unsuccessful is if he doesn't take care of his health."
His health doesn't seem to be improving, as he gets busted for sassing a staff member. Danny engages in another face-off with Jo-Ann. She asks, "How does that feel having to go around apologizing to everybody?" Danny says, "You get used to it. I spent half my life apologizing and the other half doing things to apologize for." He stumbles upon some insights in this session: "I don't want to sound all grandiose, but I used to think whatever I said everybody was lucky to hear it because it was going to be so profound. I'd like to learn to keep my mouth shut a little bit." But Jo-Ann has to listen to Danny run his mouth as he learns how to keep his mouth shut.
While in counseling with Denise, Danny admits that he was absent from some of his children's events because of drugs. He even admits that he can't remember if Dante was baptized. It was one big blur. Naturally, VH1 cuts to the family, as Dante behaves badly, and Isabella tries to parent him. At one point, Isabella calls Gretchen "the worst mother in the world." She adds, "I hate her!" Gretchen admits to Dr. Garry that Isabella is becoming difficult, and Isabella is trying to take on a parent role toward Dante. Her parents keep forcing her to act like a grownup, and of course she's angry. It's amazing the kids haven't acted up sooner. Dr. Garry sums up that Isabella is "trying to take control of the situation." In every shot, the girl looks miserable. At one point, she stares intently at a toy and says, "I'm just very, very, very missing my daddy."
Despite all his grumping over rehab, his counselors declare that Danny is making progress, and he builds his little projects and meditates without complaining. Everything looks good. He even wins a hug or two, but he asks one question of a counselor that suggests trouble ahead: "What is the likelihood of a marriage between a sexual addict and a no-sexual-desire person working out for an extended period of time?" The doctor answers, "If the sexual addiction is not treated, there's no way that that relationship will be satisfying and intimate." Unfortunately, if Danny kicks his drug addiction, he has always been prone to shifting his addictions elsewhere, and, if Gretchen isn't interested (who can blame her?), then rehab won't be the magic answer.
Despite his question about his sexual addiction, Danny is improving, and he will get a visit from his children. Danny already has a bench with Isabella's name carved on it for the occasion. Danny is nervous about seeing his family because "I want to appear different somehow," and he does his best to make everything perfect, cleaning his room and assembling a vase full of sunflowers.
Just before they arrive, Danny says something that suggests he may have changed: "I just don't want to explode on my family - here's what I've learned, here's how I feel …" For once, is he suggesting that he doesn't want it all to be about him? Because that's the step he needs to take. He needs to be there for his wife and his kids instead of enfolding them in his personal dramas.
The cameras follow the children into rehab. Again, it gets a little uncomfortable when the kids are around. If both the kids were younger, like Dante, then it might be all right because they wouldn't really understand what is going on, but Isabella clearly has a grasp of what her father is going through, and having her emotions captured on camera is painful.
Danny is elated to be with them and is clearly grateful to have time with them. Isabella even says that Danny is looking better. The only dark moment in Danny's reunion with Isabella takes place when he gives her a glass-bead bracelet with what Danny calls a "promise bead." He explains what the bead means: "It means that Daddy now has the patience to sit around with other drunks making glass beads and not ridicule his fellow man. And it's a promise bead. The promise is that I will never steal 30 days out of your life again, and that I'm really sorry." He should not have mentioned the other drunks in front of such a young girl. She doesn't know the meaning of that, and she doesn't understand that her dad is recovering from alcoholism. He is also talking to her as if she were an adult again, and she responds exactly as an adult would. She says, "It's not your fault, Daddy." [Yes it is, but she is too young to understand.] And then she says, "I'm going to help you, Daddy." That's too much of a burden to lay on a young girl, and VH1 doesn't lift the burden by putting it on television.
The final section of the show cross-cuts between Gretchen and Dr. Garry and a cheesy montage of the family on a merry-go-round. Gretchen says to Dr. Garry: "I'm so proud of him." During their conversation at the rehab center, Danny admitted that the affair was his fault. However, she adds, "I'm being cautiously optimistic because I've been down this road before." The ending is way too pat for such a complicated situation because, even when a person is clean, an addiction is never over.
Next week: Danny returns home and tries to deal with being a civilian, and the girls from the gym come back, which suggests that his sexual addiction might flare up.